Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sundays on Fourth Street/ Los domingos en la calle Cuatro

Written by Amy Costales
Illustrated by Elaine Jerome

*Reading level: Ages 4-8
*Hardcover: 32 pages
*Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público Press (October 2009)
*Language: Bilingual English/Spanish
*ISBN-13: 978-1-55885-520-5

My cousin Pepe combs my hair back just like his, and Aunt Pilar laughs. Then she slides her red lipstick across my lips, but Mamá wipes it off because I’m too young. Mamá puts on her new jeans, and Aunt Pilar polishes her high heels. Uncle Armando finishes washing his old car.

Thus begins a family’s journey to Fourth Street. A little girl and her two cousins eat mangos, long for new boots, ride the carousel, get hair cuts and buy groceries on a family excursion to the center of Santa Ana, California. The cousins enjoy treats, a loving family and lots of excitement, even if nobody gets new boots. The journey ends with the sleepy girl’s last thoughts as she is being tucked into bed next to her cousins:

I know that once I outgrow my boots, I may not get the red ones with the fringe and the silver tips. I know that I may not get a new bike. But what I do have is an uncle who will carry me and my sleepy cousins to bed. I have an aunt who lets me pretend to be grown-up. I have a mother who tells me stories at night. And I have my cousins Pepe and Edgar beside me to share every Sunday on Fourth Street.

From the author:

Several years ago, when I sent my first manuscript to a publisher, I got a hand-written note, suggesting I write a story about Día de Los Muertos or Cinco de Mayo. Hungry for an acceptance letter, I really tried to write those books, but it didn’t work. Those weren’t the stories in my heart. I wanted to write about every day, not holidays. My efforts of write a story about my dead grandmother turned into my second book, Abuelita Full of Life. As for the Cinco de Mayo book, well, I set it in Santa Ana, but I couldn’t get away from memories of my daughter and her two cousins on Sunday excursions to Fourth Street. I ended up celebrating, not a holiday, but two things important to me; extended family and every day life on Fourth Street. It was bitter-sweet writing this book. My nephews, who spent almost their whole lives in California, had just been deported to Mexico. Edgar is working with his dad near Toluca, Pepe is in university in Tampico, and Kelsey is in university in Oregon.

From the publisher:

A young girl enjoys her family's weekly trip to Fourth Street, where she and her cousins eat mangos and tacos, look at clothes and shoes, watch all the people on the busy street and take care of such chores as haircuts and grocery shopping.

Based on real-life visits to Fourth Street in Santa Ana, California, author Amy Costales has written a story that pays homage to a special street and—more importantly—time spent with loved ones. Paired with Elaine Jerome’s colorful illustrations that depict lively street scenes, readers of all ages will enjoy Sundays on Fourth Street.

Amy Costales grew up in Spain and on the U.S.-Mexico border. She has taught Spanish in California, Thailand, India and Oregon and completed an M.A. in Spanish literature at the University of Oregon. Her daughter Kelsey and nephews Pepe and Edgar spent many Sundays of their childhood on Fourth Street in Santa Ana, California. After spending most of their lives in California, Pepe and Edgar were deported to Mexico with their parents. Kelsey and her cousins are separated by the border, but memories of Fourth Street live on. Today Amy lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her family. This is her fourth picture book. To learn more about the author, visit

Elaine Jerome grew up with a love of travel after living in both Hong Kong and New York as a child. She has a background in both art and science, and finds illustrating for children a field that unifies her past experiences. She is the illustrator of The Woodcutter's Gift / El regalo del leñador (Piñata Books, 2007). Elaine currently resides in Lake Tahoe, where she and her husband enjoy snowboarding together. To see more of Elaine's work, visit

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a touching story. I am glad Amy stuck to writing what was in her heart and about everyday life. Bilingual and multicultural books need not only be about holidays and big picture themes. They can and should be about everyday life! Kudos to Amy Costales!